Facebook gives German users tools to combat fake news

The features are already available to users in the United States, and are the platform’s effort to address the growing problem of false stories shared online.

Here’s a new Facebook feature that many Americans probably wish existed last October: a fake news filter.

The company is launching its filtering tool in Germany prior to the country’s upcoming federal election. The move comes as German lawmakers are proposing a law that would stick Facebook with a €500,000 fine for misinformation that the social network fails to remove from its network.

Buzzfeed reported that Facebook was perpetuating fake news stories about German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which was probably a motivating factor to the decision, too.

If Facebook users in Germany flag a story as “fake,” Correctiv, an independent organization, will analyze it. If the story cannot be confirmed, it will be marked “disputed” on Facebook. Before other users can share the story, it will come with a warning that the story has not been confirmed.

Facebook will also suppress these disputed stories in users’ newsfeeds. The features are already available to Facebook users in the United States:

Facebook has made it a priority to address its fake news problem since the U.S. presidential election, which inspired an uptick in falsely reported news stories. Google has also addressed the issue of fake news with website changes.

In December, the vice president of Facebook’s newsfeed, Adam Mosseri, wrote in a company blog post:

We believe in giving people a voice and that we cannot become arbiters of truth ourselves, so we’re approaching this problem carefully. We’ve focused our efforts on the worst of the worst, on the clear hoaxes spread by spammers for their own gain, and on engaging both our community and third party organizations.

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